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A birding visit to Andaman archipelago

posted May 24, 2018, 4:48 AM by Sharath Adavanne   [ updated May 24, 2018, 4:54 AM ]

The largest Indian archipelago, the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal is situated in the equatorial belt. These are exposed to marine impacts having warm and humid tropical climate. The island receives an average of 300 to 3500 mm rainfall from both South-west and North-east monsoons, including sporadic cyclonic winds. The relative humidity remains between 66 and 85% throughout the year. Influenced by this weather and the specific location, profusely grown different forests types - Beach, Mangrove, Wet evergreen, Semi-evergreen, Moist deciduous and Grasslands are present (Lakshminarasimhan et al. 2011).

Due to isolation from the mainland, the endemism is very high in all taxa including avifauna. The archipelago is one of the Endemic Bird Areas and nineteen sites are identified as Important Bird Areas (Islam & Rahmani, 2005). A higher degree of endemism, i.e., 103–105 taxa out of 284 avian species and races recorded from these isolated archipelagoes (Sankaran & Vijayan, 1993; Vijayan et al. 2000; Pande Satish et al. 2007; Sivaperuman et al. 2014). A taxonomical deviation that separates species and species is dealt in detail in Compact Handbook (Ali & Ripley. 1987). Habitat diversity and the presence of wet forests on islands significantly influencing species richness of forest birds has been studied (Priya Davidar et al. 1996 & 2001).

Visited more diversity birding locations - Port Blair, Mt. Harriet National Park, Chidiyatapu biological park, Baratang, Dhaninallah Mangroves, Mayabundar, Diglipur -Smith & Ross Island, Rangath, Havelock Islands, Neil Island, Sippighat, Ogranbranj, Wandoor marine national Park, and Farrarganj spread over South, Middle & North Andaman. The first five ‘species-rich locations’ in descending order is tabulated (Table 1). The birding trial spread over 53 hours (03.2.2017 - 12.02.2017) resulted in 6072 birds belonging to 101 species (Table 2).

It is a pleasure and visual threat to identify the island species and subspecies in comparison with the mainland. A few are – Hill Myna’s nape-wattle not reaching the crown, darker female Koel, darker Striated Heron, Red-whiskered Bulbul’s White tips on rectrices, Fairy Blue-bird with longer tail & blue-grey vent, under parts of Red Turtle Dove more darker, Small Minivet females more yellowish flank & abdomen, White-throated Kingfisher wing patches more pronouncing, Stork-billed Kingfisher with pale cap and Collared Kingfisher with Blackish cheek, etc.,


Few birds characteristic behavioral observed are;
  • Small flocks of Red-collared Doves Streptopelia tranquebarica humilis transformed into a large congregation (300+) before took roost in Pandanus clumpse at Ogranbranj wetlands.
  • Similarly, the roosting activity of introduced species (Rajan & Pramod. 2013), Common Mynas Acridotheres tristis observed close to Agriculture research region just after Sippighat.
  • Introduced species, House Sparrows Passer domesticus were comfortably at home forging inside ferries that regularly make trips between Bamboo Plot & Chattam Jetty throughout the day.
  • White-bellied Andaman Shama Copsychus albiventis was active in very poorly lit foliage thicket.
  • Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus is a migrant (Gokulakrishnan et al. 2015) to the archipelago, are found in good numbers wherever present.
  • Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica were recorded as individuals in contrast to congregation compared to the mainland. 
  • A large congregation of Glossy Swiftlets Collocalia esculenta was foraging right above a large Ficus tree near Diglipur jetty.


Andaman Flowerpecker Dicaeum virescens


Andaman Serpent Eagle Spilornis elgini


Andaman Teal Anas albogularis


Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea andamanica


Fulvousbreasted Pied Woodpecker Dendrocopas macei andamanesis


Hill Myna Gracula religiosa andamanensis


Pacific or House Swallow Hirundo tahitica


Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus



Pacific Reef Egret Egretta sacra



Table 1: Species-rich locations (first five)

Sl No

Locations

Total Birding hours

(No. of  days)

No. of species recorded

1

Chidiyatapu Biological Park, South Andaman

 7 (2)

45

2

Havelock,  Island

14 (2)

35

3

Diglipur- Smith & Ross Island, North Andaman

 7 (1)

34

4

Neil,  Island

10 (2)

32

5

Ogranbranj tidal mudflat, South Andaman

 3 (1)

31



Table 2: List of birds observed during the visit

Sl No

Species

Present in No. of locations (Out of 14)

Total Bird Counted

1

Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica

2

700

2

Andaman Teal Anas albogularis*

2

600

3

Cotton Teal Nettapus coromandelianus

2

70

4

Rock Pigeon Columba livia

6

427

5

Andaman Wood Pigeon Columba palumboides* #

1

2

6

Red Collared Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica humilis*

10

316

7

Andaman Cuckoo Dove Macropygia rufipennis* #

1

2

8

Andaman Green Pigeon Treron chlroropterus*

1

5

9

Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica maxima *

2

2

10

Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea andamanica*

5

97

11

Brown-backed Needletail Hirundapus giganteus indica *

4

12

12

Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta affinis*

12

2243

13

Andaman Coucal Centropus scolopaceus *

8

16

14

Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus dolosa*

8

35

15

Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus

1

1

16

Ruddy-breasted Crake Zapornia [Porzana] fusca

1

2

17

White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus

1

1

18

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio poliocephalus

2

16

19

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus

2

155

20

Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis

2

11

21

Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus

1

1

22

Striated Heron Butorides striata spodiogaster*

2

5

23

Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii

4

28

24

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

8

46

25

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

1

6

26

Great Egret Ardea [Egretta]alba

3

11

27

Intermediate Egret Ardea [Egretta]intermedia

2

15

28

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

4

22

29

Pacific Reef Egret Egretta sacra

5

13

30

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva

1

3

31

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

1

4

32

Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus

1

5

33

Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii

1

4

34

Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus

1

12

35

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

3

6

36

Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata #

1

1

37

Broad-billed Sandpiper Calidris falcinellus

1

3

38

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris [Erolia] ferruginea #

1

6

39

Sanderling Calidris alba

1

60

40

Pintail Snipe Gallinago stenura

2

15

41

Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago

2

18

42

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

6

10

43

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus

1

1

44

Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia

1

2

45

Common Redshank Tringa totanus

3

18

46

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola

2

3

47

Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis

2

6

48

Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis

1

25

49

Oriental Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus

2

2

50

Black Baza Aviceda leuphotes andamanica *

1

1

51

Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela davisoni*

3

8

52

Andaman Serpent Eagle Spilornis elgini* #

1

2

53

Changeable Hawk Eagle Spizaetus limnaeetus andamanensis*

2

2

54

White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster

6

9

55

Andaman Woodpecker Dryocopus hodgei*

3

5

56

Fulvous-breasted Pied Woodpecker Dendrocopos macei andamanensis*

1

2

57

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater Spizaetus leschenaultia andamanensis*

4

12

58

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis

1

1

59

Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis osmastoni*

5

7

60

White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis saturatior*

9

14

61

Collared Kingfisher Todiramphus chloris davisoni*

7

22

62

Red-breasted Parakeet Psittacula alexandri abbotti* #

6

32

63

Long-tailed Parakeet Psittacula longicauda tytleri * #

6

44

64

Alexandrine Parakeet Psittacula eupatria magnirostris* #

3

10

65

Vernal Hanging Parrot Loriculus vernalis

7

19

66

Small Minivet Pericrocotus cinnamomeus vividus*

6

30

67

Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus andamanensis*

4

24

68

Large Cuckooshrike Coracina javensis andamanensis *

1

2

69

Andaman Cuckooshrike Coracina dobsoni*

2

4

70

Indian Golden Oriole Oriolus kundoo

3

6

71

Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis andamanensis*

7

22

72

Andaman Drongo Dicrurus andamanensis * #

7

17

73

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus otiosus*

7

15

74

Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus

11

20

75

Philiphines Shrike  L. c. lucionensis

1

1

76

Andaman Treepie Dendrocitta baileii* #

1

8

77

House Crow Corvus splendens

5

11

78

Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos levaillantii*

7

49

79

Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea tytleri*

2

3

80

Andaman Flowerpecker Dicaeum virescens*

6

10

81

Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis andamanica *

6

19

82

Asian Fairy-bluebird Irena puella puella

2

8

83

House Sparrow Passer domesticus

7

100

84

Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus

2

2

85

Western Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava

2

15

86

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea

1

1

87

White Wagtail Motacilla alba

1

1

88

Paddyfield Warbler Acrocephalus agricola

1

1

89

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica

4

22

90

Pacific/ House Swallow Hirundo tahitica

2

11

91

Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus whistleri*

11

53

92

Andaman Bulbul Brachypodius fuscoflavescens*

1

8

93

Oriental White-eye Zosterops palpebrosus

3

17

94

Andaman White-headed Starling Sturnia erythropygia*

3

26

95

Common Myna Acridotheres tristis

6

119

96

Hill Myna Gracula religiosa andamanensis*

5

26

97

Asian Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis tytleri*

8

149

98

Oriental Magpie Robin Copsychus saularis andamanensis *

5

12

99

Andaman Shama Copsychus albiventis *

1

2

100

Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica

2

3

101

Siberian Thrush Geokichla sibirica

1

1


Total Birds


6072

No. of Species recorded: 101; Family: 33; Order: 12.

*Endemic Species and Subspecies - 44 nos;  # Nearly threatened – 9 nos (Bnhsenvis. 2015)


References:

  • Ali, S. & Ripley, D.S. 1987. Compact Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan together with those of Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, Delhi, India.
  • Bnhsenvis. 2015. http://bnhsenvis.nic.in/Database/2015_17570.aspx.2015
  • Gokulakrishnan G, Sivaperuman C, Jaisankar I, Velmurugan A and Dinesh J. Species Abundance and Distributions of Bird Communities in Agroecosystems, South Andaman, Journal of the Andaman Science Association 20(2):151-163(2015).
  • Islam, Z.U. and Rahmani, A. R. 2005. Important Bird Areas in India. Priority sites for conservation. 1st ed. Mumbai: Indian Bird Conservation Network: Bombay Natural History Society and BirdLife International (UK). 
  • Lakshminarasimhan, P., Gantait, S., Rasingam, L. & Bandyopadhyay, S. 2011. Bibliography and Abstracts of Papers on Flora of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. ENVIS Centre on Floral Diversity, Botanical Survey of India, Howrah. 
  • Pande Satish, Sant N, Ranade S, Pednekar S., Mestry P, Deshpande P, Kharat S & Deshmukh V. 2007. Avifaunal survey of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Indian Birds 3 (5): 162–180. 
  • Priya Davidar, Yoganand RK, Ganesh T & Nirah Joshi. 1996. An assessment of common and rare forest bird species of the Andaman Islands. Forktail 12: 135-142.
  • Priya Davidar, Yoganand RK & Ganesh T. 2001. Distribution of forest birds in the Andaman Islands: importance of key habitats. Journal of Biogeography 28(5): 663-671.
  • Rajan, P., & Pramod, P., 2013. Introduced birds of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, India. Indian BIRDS8 (3): 71-72
  • Sankaran, R. & Vijayan, L. 1993. The avifauna of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands: A review and the current scenario. In: Bird Conservation. 
  • Sivaperuman C, Gokulakrishnan T, Dinesh J and Venkataraman K. 2014. Six new Records of Birds from Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Biological Forum 6(1): 127-133.
  • Vijayan, L., Sankaran, R., Sivakumar, K. & Murugan, V. 2000. A study on the ecology, status and conservation perspectives of certain rare endemic avifauna of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands: Final Report. Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology & Natural History, Coimbatore, India

Mid-summer survey for few focussed birds in Ladakh, J & K

posted Mar 13, 2018, 12:57 AM by Sharath Adavanne   [ updated Mar 13, 2018, 1:06 AM ]

Introduction

Indian sub-continent is an important winter terminus for many migratory birds due to its latitudinal and climatic condition and a diversity of wetland habitats (Ali & Repley 1987). Systematic documentation of avifaunal distribution is maintained by Mysore Area (Mysore, Mandya & Chamararaja Nagar districts of Southern Karnataka) birders since 1987, the beginning of Asian Waterfowl Census (Mysore Nature 2016). The presence of 117 winter migrants’ visit is confirmed. Interestingly Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus, Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea and Brown-headed Gull Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus that are recorded in Mysore Area, has summer distribution in Indian limit at Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir but in small numbers.

To understand these birds' summer habitat, distribution, and the foraging activity, a short survey was planned in the Ladakh region where they, sparsely distributed and consistently breed (Ali & Repley 1987). Known breeding and foraging grounds were visited during the study for two weeks in July 2016. It includes Indus Valley, high-altitude varied saline & freshwater lakes, surrounding grasslands of Tso Pangong (4253 m), Tso Moriri (4600 m), Tso Kar (4544 m), Startsapuk Tso (4540 m) and Nubra – Shyok Valley (3200 m). Intended Hanley region visit skipped because of the paucity of time. Study locations are designated Important Bird Area (IBA), prioritized conservation sites (Islam & Rahmani 2005) in Ladakh – Pangong Tso (IN-JK-15), Tso Kar Basin (IN-JK-18) & Tso Moriri Lake & Adjacent Marshes (IN-JK-19). Although it was only a short-term survey, significant amounts of information obtained are presented here.

Ladakh is an arid, high-altitude environment and the entire Area is extremely rugged and mountainous. The Trans-Himalayan cold desert of Ladakh is located on the border between the Palaearctic and the Indo-Malayan zoogeographic zones and it harbors distinctive avifauna of both the regions (Pfister 2004). Inhabitation exists in low-lying, smaller Areas along the Indus, Nubra-Shyok, Suru & Zanskar River valleys. The eastern part of Ladakh is continuous of Tibetan plateau extension.

Focussed species distribution in Mysore Area and Ladakh


Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus

Bar-headed Goose has the vast range of distribution, and its population trend is decreasing but not sufficiently rapid (BirdLife 2016). The population decline is due to over-hunting, egg collecting and habitat destruction (del Hoyo et al. 1992). The bar-headed goose migrates over the Himalayas to spend the winter in Indian sub-continent. Its wintering habitat is cultivated fields of paddy & grams adjoining the water bodies and safely rests in the middle of fresh water bodies. Goose breeds very locally on high-altitude lakes and marshes (Rasmussen & Anderton 2012). Few attempts are made to study the Goose movement that breeds in Indian limit. A bird that was neck collared at Pong Lake, Himachal Pradesh on breeding sojourn was re-sighted at Tso Kar, Ladakh establishing a smaller range of migrating route (WWF India 2013). Using modern satellite tracking techniques, Geese was fitted with Platform Transmitter Terminals (PTT) and studied in Ladakh (WII, 2014). The study provided little details of movement - between Himachal Pradesh border (close to Tso Moriri) to Pangong Lake to Chushul, and Chushul to Tibetan part of Pangong Lake. Winter migration started from Chushul to Gharana Conservation Reserve, Jammu. In another attempt at Gharana Conservation Reserve, could gather minuscule movement data within in the Tawi river plains of India and Pakistan (Neeraj et al. 2014). Movement of Geese, breeding beyond Indian limit and maximum usage of several stopover sites between breeding and wintering areas is well established (Eric Palm et al. 2015).

Goose collared in Mongolia provides substantial evidence of migration from Mongolia to India (Madhukar et al. 2009). These Geese have been recorded in 27 tanks every winter till day (Shivaprakash 2005); as high as 996 Geese have been counted in a single flock during February 2011. So far 36 Collared Geese have been recorded in Mysuru Area (Shivaprakash 2016). The congregation is recorded consistently every year at IBAs like Kunthur-Kallur Lakes (IBA-IN-KA-18), Narasambudhi Lake (IN-KA-27), Krishnaraja Sagar Reservoir (IN-KA-18), Sulekere Lake (IN-KA-34) and other tanks- Bannur Heggare, Hadinaru, Kaggalipura, Kenchanakere, Markalu. Shrinking water bodies, disturbance, and hunting, decrease in cultivation are the few threats faced. To safeguard the cultivated crops farmers spread the fishing nets, thus denying their feed and as well nets tangle them to damage and sometimes death. In Ladakh, Goose were recorded only at Tso Moriri feeding on short grass blades in vast grasslands close by the water body during early morning hours.


Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea

Ruddy Shelduck has a vast range of distribution, and its population trend is uncertain (BirdLife 2016). Usually found dispersed in pairs during the breeding season and scattered small flocks in winter. On land, it feeds on grasses, the tender leaves, grain, terrestrial invertebrates and in water plants and aquatic invertebrates. These are rare, over Mysore Area, not a regular winter migrants as Bar-headed Goose and Brown-headed Gull. They are said to be gregarious in winter (Rasmussen & Anderton 2012). In Mysore Area they have been recorded in subtle numbers
 (2 to 7) occasionally over three decades (1987-2016) at IBAs Kunthur-Kallur Lakes (IBA-IN-KA-18), Narasambudhi Lake (IN-KA-27), Krishnaraja Sagar Reservoir (IN-KA-18), and other tanks -Yelandur, Duggatti, and Kenchanakere. Here, the Shelducks prefer to stay on mudflats and sandbars of the interior lakes. In winter Shelducks frequenting riverine wetlands (75%) more than the grasslands and shrub lands, and avoided woods and cropland habitats (Tsewang et al. 2011). As sightings are rare in Mysore Area, an extensive investigation is necessary for riverine wetlands. In addition to Ladakh, Shelducks breeds in Arunachal Pradesh (Choudhury 2000) and Sikkim (Ganguli-Lachungpa 1990) in Indian limit. In Ladakh, Shelducks was recorded in 2 or 3s at four locations on river
ine wetlands. Though omnivorous in nature and nocturnal in behaviour, at two sites they were feeding on short grass blades close by the water body during the daytime.


Brown-headed Gull Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus

Brown-headed Gull has extremely large range of distribution, and stable population trend (BirdLife, 2016). Gull Breeds in high-mountainous lakes of different salinity level and surrounding grasslands. Outside the breeding period spreads over coastal waters, saline/ freshwater lakes, and larger rivers. It is a breeding visitor to Ladakh and often nests with Ruddy Shelducks and Bar-headed Goose. It has a varied diet like fish, shrimps, offal, rodents, sewage, grubs, slugs and earthworms (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Opportunistic feeding by a large number of Gulls on cooked food made out of gram and wheat flour is a tourist attraction in winter at Lakhota lake, Jamnagar.

These are uncommon winter migrants to Mysore Area, regularly found in IBA designated large water bodies like Kunthur-Kallur Lakes (IBA-IN-KA-18), Narasambudhi Lake (IN-KA-27), Krishnaraja Sagar Reservoir (IN-KA-18), Sulekere Lake (IN-KA-34) and Bannur Heggare, Karimuddanahalli, Kenchanakere. Seldom uses medium sized water bodies like Karanji (IN-KA-14), Lingambudhi (IN-KA-22), Kalale, Subbarayankere, Devikere, Malligehalli for a day or two. Receding water level to its lowest attracts the large congregtion (500+) of Gulls in in Krishnaraja Sagar reservoir. In Ladakh, individual Gulls were recorded in thin streams and grasslands, but on water surface of larger lakes were in small numbers. 

Table 1: Focussed species distribution in nos.


Focussed species

Pangong Tso

Changtung- Puga

Tso Moriri

Startsapuk Tso

Tso Kar


1

Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus

0

0

123

0

0

Adult chicks & juveniles feeding on short grass blades.

2

Ruddy Shelduck /Brahminy Duck Tadorna ferruginea

3

0

4

5

4

Pairs feeding short grass blades at 2 locations and resting on shores/ mudflats.

3

Brown-headed Gull Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus

8

6

23

4

2

Mostly solitary on grassland, thin streams, and in small group on the water surface.



Other birds recorded during the visit

Ladakh supports 310 bird species including 36 species that are not sighted after 1960 and data deficient (Pfister, 2004).  Out of 274 species, 106 breed here (Tak et al. 2008). Recorded 81 bird species (Table 2) during the survey.  The sighting comprises of one near threatened bird species (bnhsenvis 2015) - Himalayan Vulture Gyps himalayensis; and two Vulnerable, Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis and the Common Pochard Aythya ferina. The team discovered a solitary Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus at Tso Moriri. The bird was completely tired, tucked its head in standing posture and hardly moved on our close proximity.  This observation constitutes the first record for Ladakh. Maximum numbers of species were observed in disturbed Areas - close to the construction workers' settlements and villages.
In addition to focussed three species, 78 avifaunal species observed. Among them, 42 species were involved in breeding activity like feeding their off-shoots, and carrying the nesting material. A pair of Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo was incubating in a black poplar tree in a hamlet. Observed, highest numbers of Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola and Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros breeding in pastures surrounding water bodies; at least a pair them were present every 40 -50 m distance. 


Table 2: List of birds observed during the survey 
(* indicates breeding)


Sl No

Species

1

Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus *

2

Common Merganser Mergus merganser *

3

Ruddy Shelduck/Brahminy Duck Tadorna ferruginea *

4

Common Pochard Aythya ferina

5

Tufted Pochard/Duck Aythya fuligula

6

Eurasian Wigeon Mareca penelope

7

Northern Pintail Anas acuta

8

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos

9

Chukar Partridge Alectoris chukar *

10

Tibetan Partridge Perdix hodgsoniae

11

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis

12

Great-crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus

13

Rock Pigeon Columba livia *

14

Hill Pigeon Columba rupestris

15

Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis *

16

Common Swift Apus apus

17

Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus

18

Common Cuckoo or Eurasian Cuckoo Cuculus canorua

19

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus *

20

Common Coot Fulica atra *

21

Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis

22

Indian Pond-Heron Ardeola grayii

23

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

24

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus

25

Lesser Sandplover Charadrius mongolus *

26

Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus

27

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

28

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus

29

Common Redshank Tringa totanus *

30

Brown-headed Gull Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus *

31

Common Tern Sterna hirundo

32

Himalayan Vulture/Griffon Gyps himalayensis

33

Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos

34

Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus

35

Black Kite Milvus migrans

36

Upland Buzzard Buteo hemilasius

37

Common Hoopoe Upupa epops *

38

Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus *

39

Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo *

40

Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus

41

Black-billed/Eurasian Magpie Pica pica *

42

Common Raven Corvus corax

43

Carrion Crow Corvus corone

44

House Crow Corvus splendens *

45

Large billed/Jungle Crow Corvus macrorhynchos

46

Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax *

47

Yellow-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus *

48

Robin Accentor Prunella rubeculoides *

49

House Sparrow Passer domesticus *

50

Tibetan /Black-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla adamsi *

51

Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta

52

Gray Wagtail Motacilla cinerea *

53

Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola *

54

White Wagtail Motacilla alba *

55

Common Rosefinch Erythrina erythrina *

56

Great Rosefinch Carpodacus rubicilla *

57

Dark-breasted Rosefinch Procarduelis nipalensis

58

Plain Mountain Finch Leucosticte nemoricola *

59

Brandt's Mountain Finch Leucosticte brandti *

60

Twite Linaria flavirostris *

61

Eurasian Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis

62

Gold-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus *

63

Cinerous /Great Tit Parus cinereus *

64

Hume's Short-toed Lark Calandrella acutirostris *

65

Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris *

66

Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus

67

Northern House Martin Delichon urbicum

68

Eurasian Dusky Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris *

69

Mountain Chiffchaff Phylloscopus sindianus *

70

Sulpher bellied Warbler Phylloscopus griseolus

71

Lesser White-throat Curruca curruca

72

Hume's White-throat Sylvia althaea *

73

Winter/ Eurasian Wren Troglodytes troglodytes

74

White-throated Dipper Cinclus cinclus

75

Brown Dipper Cinclus pallasii

76

Blue-throat Luscinia svecica *

77

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros *

78

White-winged Redstart Phoenicurus erythrogastrus *

79

Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius *

80

Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti *

81

Tickell's Thrush Turdus unicolor *


Development pressures on biodiversity in Ladakh

Ladakh is currently witnessing unprecedented levels of economic growth, in large part driven by growth in the tourism, animal husbandry, and infrastructure development. Ladakh has no other way to avoid but to face it. Some infrastructure facilities including roads, residing places, and power transmission line are being developed to support economic growth in Ladakh. Some of these could have negative impacts on the wetlands supporting water birds at Tso kar, Tso Moriri, Pangong Tso (all IBAs) and its wildlife and biodiversity. Threats have been brought out clearly in the study (Chandan et al. 2004) on Black-naped Crane Grus nigricollis that is faithful to all the water birds. Presently the threats are magnified by many folds:  Grazing pressure from the livestock; unregulated and unplanned development activities such as the construction of the road, buildings, and brick making around the wetland; tourists camping, generating garbage and the causing disturbances; off track driving by the vehicles, Construction workers camping close to the foraging ground and water sources.
To address the issues, it is essential to utilize available nesting and seasonal distribution detailed data.  Such data would enable to provide different options for construction of roads, buildings, transport, power infrastructure, efficient usage of occasional grasslands and facilitate the selection options that could minimize adverse impacts on nesting, the foraging habitat of this distinctive avifauna of the regions.

Table 3: Distribution and abundance of top ten species

Bird Species

Occurrence out of 29 locations

Bird Species

Abundancy in nos.

Black-billed/Eurasian Magpie Pica pica

18

Rock Pigeon Columba livia

A

Rock Pigeon Columba livia

17

House Sparrow Passer domesticus

A

House Sparrow Passer domesticus

16

Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus

123

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros

14

Black-billed/Eurasian Magpie Pica pica

98

Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola

12

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros

51

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus

9

Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola

43

White Wagtail Motacilla alba

9

Brown-headed Gull Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus

43

Common Rosefinch Erythrina erythrina

8

Hume's Short-toed Lark Calandrella acutirostris

40

Mountain Chiffchaff Phylloscopus sindianus

8

Common Rosefinch Erythrina erythrina

30

Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis

7

Chukar Partridge Alectoris chukar

30

A* - in good numbers, hence did not count.  

References: 

  • Ali, S. & Ripley, D.S. 1987. Compact Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan together with those of Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. 2nd ed.  Oxford University Press, Delhi, India.
  • Bnhsenvis. 2015. http://bnhsenvis.nic.in/Database/2015_17570.aspx.2015. [Accessed on 16/9/2016]
  • BirdLife International. 2016.  IUCN Red List for birds.  [Accessed on 18/9/2016]
  • Chandan P, A Chatterjee, P Gautam, C M Seth, J Takpa, S Haq, P Tashi and S Vidya (2005): Black-necked Crane -Status, Breeding Productivity and Conservation in Ladakh, India 2000-2004. WWF-India and Department of Wildlife Protection. Government of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Choudhury, A.U. 2000. The Birds of Assam. Gibbon Books and WWF, Guwahati, India.
  • del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
  • Eric C Palm, Scott H Newman, Diann J Prosser, Xiangming Xiao, Luo Ze, Nyambayar Batbayar, Sivananinthaperumal Balachandran & John Y Takekawa, Mapping migratory flyways in Asia using dynamic Brownian bridge movement models. Movement Ecology (2015) 3:3 ©  Palm et al.; licensee BioMed Central. 2015
  • Ganguli-Lachungpa, U. 1990. Brahminy Duck Tadorna ferruginea (Pallas) breeding in Sikkim. Journal of Bombay Natural History Society.  87:290
  • Islam, M.Z. & A.R. Rahmani. 2005. Important Bird Areas in India: Priority sites for conservation. Mumbai: Indian Bird Conservation Network: Bombay Natural History Society and BirdLife International (UK). P 574
  • Madhukar.B., Shivaprakash.A and Raju Kasambe. 2009. Re-sightings of the Mongolian tagged Bar-headed Goose in India.  Newsletter for Birdwatchers: 49(1):2-4
  • Mysore Nature. 2016. www.mysorenature.org  [Accessed on 28/9/2016]
  • Neeraj Mahar, Bilal Habib, Tahir Shawl, Govindan Veeraswami Gopi, Intesar Suhail, Jigmet Takpa & Syed Ainul Hussain. 2015. Tracking the movement pattern of Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus captured from Gharana Conservation Reserve, India. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 112(1): 361 
  • Rasmussen, P.C. & Anderton, J.C.2012. Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide. Vols. 1 and 2. Second Edition. National Museum of Natural History – Smithsonian Institution, Michigan State University and Lynx Edicions, Washington, D.C., Michigan and Barcelona. 
  • Shivaprakash, A. 2005. Distribution, density and Threats to Barheaded Goose in Mysore, Mandya and Chamaranagar districts, Southern Karnataka.  Newsletter for Birdwatchers: 45(5):80
  • Shivaprakash, A. 2016. www.mysorenature.org/mysorenature/birds-of-mysore-area [Accessed on 30/9/2016]
  • Tak P C, D K Sharma, M L Thakur, and Uttam Saikia. 2008. Birds of Ladakh and Analysis of their status. Rec. Zool. Surv, India, 108 (part -2):27-53
  • Tsewang Namgail, John Y. Takekawa, Balachandran Sivananinthaperumal, Gopala Areendran, Ponnusamy Sathiyaselvam, Taej Mundkur, Tracy Mccracken & Scott Newman. Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea home range and habitat use during the non-breeding season in Assam, India. Wildfowl (2011) 61: 182–193
  • WWF.2013. http://www.wwfindia.org/news_facts/feature_stories/rare_sighting_bar_headed_ geese/  [Accessed on 22/9/2016]
  • WII, 2014. Capture and tagging of Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis) and Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) in Changthang Cold Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, Ladakh. A report by Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, and Department of Wildlife Protection, Jammu & Kashmir. Pp. 32.

Authors and their contributions

Shivaprakash A. wrote the manuscript. Shivaprakash A, Girija T, Dr. Sathish Kumar N, Dr. Veena G and Tsering Landol performed field studies. Tsering Landol joined Nubra-shyok Valley field studies. All authors read and approved the final manuscript. 





































A PRELIMINARY INVENTORY AND COMPARISON STUDY OF TERMITES AT TWO DISTANT LOCATIONS IN MYSORE CITY

posted Feb 20, 2018, 3:41 AM by Sharath Adavanne   [ updated Feb 20, 2018, 4:15 AM ]

Read Part 1 here 


6: Odontotermes feae (Wasmann)




1

Total body length

Total body length is about 6.5-9.00 mm including mandibles. Body moderately pilose, thorax creamy yellow- rusty yellow, abdomen short, sub cylindrical, densely hairy, and legs slender and hairy.

2

Head and Head capsule

Head deep yellow –reddish brown, Head –capsule sub rectangular, longer than wide, widest near the posterior third, posterior margin rounded, moderately pilose.

3

Antennae

Antennae 17 segmented. Segment 2 is about twice longer than segment 3. Segment 3 is shorter. Segment 4 is larger than segment 5, segment 6 is shorter than segment 7.

4

Postclypeus

Indistinctly separated from frons, reddish yellow in colour.

5

Anteclypeus

Is whitish, narrow and apilous.

6

Labrum

Sub-triangular, the sides are sloping, anteriorly to a pointed tip. Reddish-yellowish in color.

7

Mandibles.

Deep reddish, brown basally, blackish brown elsewhere. Sabre-shaped, stoutly built, slightly longer than half of the head-long.

8

Left mandible

A medium sized tooth-lying near the middle of the inner margin.

9

Right mandible

With minute crenulations near the upper edge of the basal third.

10

Post mentum

Sub-rectangular, larger than breadth, swollen near the basal third.

11

Pronotum

Weakly saddle-shaped, anterior lobe much smaller than the posterior, anterior margin with weak median emargination. Posterior margin weakly to deeply notched medially.

12

Mesonotum

Is broader than Pronotum, posterior margin sub straight.



There is dimorphic working caste (1) worker major and (2) worker minor.

This is mainly a subterranean, burrowing termite.When disturbed; the soldiers emit s white silky emission, which sets to a gummy mass. Though they are subterranean occasionally they build mound above the ground. They cultivate fungus.This termite is commercially known as one of the most important wood-destroying termites.


7: Odontotermes brunneus (Hagen)




1

Total body length

Total body length including mandibles is about 5.0 -7.0 mm. Body is densely hairy, rusty yellow in colour.

2

Head and Head capsule

Head is sub rectangularly oval, very slightly converged in front of antennae. Head capsule is fairly hairy, pale brown to reddish brown.

3

Antennae

Antennae 17 segmented, segment 3 is shortest, segment 4 is shortest than segment 2, segment 5 is shorter than segment 4.

4

Labrum

Tongue-shaped, with rounded anterior margin.

5

Mandibles

Thick, stout and short, strongly incurved, anteriorly. And shorter than head.

6

Left mandible

Is with a large prominent tooth, almost situated in the middle.

7

Right mandible

Is with a small tooth almost situated in the middle.

8

Postmentum

Sub rectangle

9

Pronotum

Saddle shaped. Anterior margin strongly notched and posterior margin weakly emarginate medially.

There are dimorphic working caste (1) worker major and (2) worker minor.

8: Trinervitermes nigrirostris Mathur and sen-sarma



This species is having two soldier caste (1) Soldier major and (2) Soldier minor

Soldier Major

1

Total body length

Total body length including rostrum 4.1-4,7 mm

2

Head and Head -capsule

Head with a few minute hairs.Head –capsule is brown, Blackish brown anteriorly. Head-capsule without rostrum is subcircular.

3

Body

Abdominal tergets smoky brown, tergets stramineous. Abdominal tergets without any long hairs, sternites with long and short hairs.

4

Rostrum

Rostrum sub cylindrical, blackish brown, tip slightly paler. Rostral hump absent.

5

Antennae

Antennae 14 segmented, pale brown, segment 3 is long and is about one and a half times of segment 2. Segment 4 slightly longer than segment 3 and 5.

6

Mandibles

Mandibles vestigial, without any spines.

7

Pronotum

Saddle-shaped, anteriorly, strongly raised. Anterior margin rounded with a broad, shallow, meridian depression. The posterior margin is convex, Pronotum with small hairs on margins.



Soldier Minor

1

Total body length

Total body length including rostrum 3.20-3.50 mm

2

Head and Head -capsule

Head with only scattered minute hairs. Head – capsule pale brown to brown, anteriorly blackish. Head –capsule without rostrum is sub-rectangular, blackish, long-cylindrical, sides incurved a little behind antennae.

3

Body

Abdominal tergets with long and short hairs

4

Rostrum

Blackish, long cylindrical little shorter than the head.

5

Antennae

Antennae are long, with 13 segments, segment 3 is more than twice as long as segment 2, segment 4 is about one and a half times , that of segment 2.

6

Mandibles

Mandibles vestigial, without any spines.

7

Pronotum

Saddle-shaped, smaller than in soldier Major.



Present Status:


After a gap of 3 years, a curatorial observation in the above said locations resulted in absence of few species. The effects of change in urban lifestyle, in addition to the rain pattern, seem to be the main reason for the decline in known termite species. In Roopa Nagara, residents have switched over to insecticides for maintenance of kitchen gardens & lawns. The vacant sites studded with numerous termite mounds were either destroyed by bulldozing or filled with pesticides to get rid of termites and reptiles. Repetitive massive cleaning of vegetation by burning is depriving dampness and organic-rich topsoil for ground and surface termite dwellers. A similar condition is prevailing in RMNH campus. The garden maintenance is inclined towards modern garden trends - lawns and few plant hybrids that are fully depending on synthetic manure and insecticides. Moreover, burning the bio waste -dry leaves, sticks, etc., is detrimental to microfauna. A major shift in priority of garden maintenance, from traditional, that supported a number of life forms to an aesthetically looking modern garden is clearly visible. Thus many species of local plants, insects, amphibians etc., are on the verge of exodus in addition to termites in both the study area.

References

  • Fauna of India ISOPTERA Vol-I and II. M.L.Roonwal and O.B.Chotani.

  • The south Asian wood-destroying termite, Odontotermes feae (indicus). Identity, biology and economic importance. Occasional paper-129, ZSI, M.L.Roonwal, and S.C.Verma.

  • Termite Fauna of Southern India by Geeta Bose.A miscellaneous publication. ZSI and other occasional publications.


Termite mound of Odontotermes obesus at Roopa Nagara

Acknowledgement

I am highly in debt to Dr.P.Ray, Scientist, instrumental in encouraging me as a science educator with continuous guidance. I am indebted to Dr. Nivedita Saha, Scientist-Isoptera and her team at Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata for the needful guidance and the literature sources.

Photo of head of Odontotermesfeae from Internet source


Author

S.J.Srinivasa, Senior Exhibit Preparator, Regional Museum of Natural History, Siddhartha nagara, Mysore-570011

A PRELIMINARY INVENTORY AND COMPARISON STUDY OF TERMITES AT TWO DISTANT LOCATIONS IN MYSORE CITY

posted Feb 20, 2018, 2:14 AM by Sharath Adavanne   [ updated Feb 20, 2018, 4:14 AM ]

Introduction

An effort made to understand the co-existence of termite population in two different locations under an aggravating urbanization is presented here. The result expresses Termite miscellany of two locations. Totally eight species have been documented of which four are present in Regional Museum of Natural History premises and seven in Roopa Nagar Residential Layout. The reason behind the absence of few species at two different locations is required to be ascertained in future studies.

Study Area

The Regional Museum of Natural History (RMNH) is located in Mysore, Karnataka situated on the south-eastern part of Mysore City adjoining Karanji Lake. Spread over an area of 2 acres, RMNH premises houses a well-maintained garden supporting plants and grass to tree varieties. It supports diverse life forms - insects, mammals, reptiles, mollusks and rich in organic materials includes 26 butterfly and 32 bird species. Here symptoms of termite presence found seasonally. Since the museum has adopted “No Pesticides” policy, recorded a number of Termite trails in the natural cover on the garden flooring.

Roopa Nagara (RNRC) is a recently planned residential Colony sprawling about 100 hectares and on the western outskirts of Mysore city. The area studded with a scanty population of mango and coconut cultivation along with other native species of Ficus, Pongamia and Acacia converted into a planned residential colony. Predominantly this area is surrounding by numerous human settlements. This area does not have any open water bodies.

Method & Results

The RMNH, once a barren land with few thorny shrubs and clumps of grass had been converted into arable and varieties of plants have been planted in the past 22 years. As the maintenance and other activities produce heaps of organic wastes, it attracted a number of insect forms to dwell in. Thus termites also had an opportunity to hold their colonies.

Whereas, the RNRC is a human settlement, studded with numerous termite occupations and being transformed into a new gardening plot. The agricultural and horticulture fortifications are ably holding up the termite fauna.

Termite samples were collected from both the areas in different seasons of the year beginning with the year 2006 till 2014. Usually, samples were collected in the field just after sunrise when they are more active. The insects were picked up by using soft round brush (usually number 03 denomination) and put into vials containing 70% alcohol which is the best and time-tested preservative for these soft-bodied insects, and when collections made in a greater number i.e. from excavation of a mound, the lot was preserved in a cold box and later transferred in to alcohol preservative. On each collection prepared field notes with details like location, time, nature of the nest - mound/ bark/ underneath stone/dry dung; weather –sunny/rainy/ after rains etc..

Around 100 vials of termite samples were sent for taxonomic identification to Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), Kolkata. The report confirms identification. The termite samples have been deposited vide ZSI -55/2016 for future references and further studies.

Table: Termite species recorded in RMNH and RNRC

RMNH

RNRC

Not recorded

Odontotermes brunneus

Not recorded

Odontotermes obesus

Not recorded

Odontotermes feae

Odontotermes bellahunisensis

Odontotermes bellahunisensis

Odontotermes horni

Odontotermes horni

Odontotermes ceylonicus

Not recorded

Not recorded

Odontotermes wallonensis

Trinervitermes nigrirostris

Trinervitermes nigrirostris



Brief description of Species

Termites construct three types of nests:
  • Nests below ground level –underground / subterranean 
  • Mounds - above ground level 
  • Arboreal nests – on trees, high stumps ... 

The higher termites (Termitidae) build terrestrial nests, above ground, which houses a large fungus garden, but there are subterranean nest builders too.

Each species have specialized a fastidious architectural pattern of nest building to suit its lifestyle, basically, the mound patterns may be classified into unilocular, where a nest has a large central cavity and in multilocular pattern several cavities. This is further divided into fungus growers and non-fungus growers.

The most common and important mound building termites in south India are;
  • Odontotermes obesus (recorded in present study area) 
  • Odontotermes redemanni (not recorded in present study area) 
  • Odontotermes wallonensis (recorded in present study area) 
Out of these, Odontotermes obesus build very tall and conspicuous subcylindrical mound, with series of buttress supporting the structure all around.

Further termites are recognized as larger species and smaller species based on the head length to the base of mandibles. If it is more than 2.0mm they are placed under larger species. 



Outlines of genus Odontotermes and genus Trinervitermes, that are dealt in this article.

Genus: Odontotermes
  • Head: pale yellow-yellowish brown coloration; sparsely hairy head, and fairly densely hairy body 
  • Head-capsule: oval or subrectangular, converging in front. 
  • Fontanelle indistinct 
  • Antennae –with 15 -18 segments 
  • Labrum- Tongue shaped, anteriorly either rounded, at anterior margin or narrowed to a sharp or bluntly rounded tip 
  • Mandibles-delicate to strong and stout. 
  • Left mandible-with a small, rudimentary to a large and prominent tooth situated at variable positioned on inner margin. 
  • Right mandible – the presence of a small, rudimentary corresponding tooth. 
  • Postmentum –subrectangular, weakly to strongly arched, sides sub straight to strongly convex. 
  • Pronotum – saddle-shaped

Genus: Trinervitermes – Soldier - Dimorphic: Soldier Major and Soldier Minor
    1. Soldier Major 
  • Head – with along cylindrical rostrum narrowing towards anterior end. 
  • Antennae –with 12-14 segments 
  • Mandibles – vestigial without any spinous process. 
  • Pronotum – strongly saddle-shaped
  • Legs – moderately long, hairy. 
  • Abdomen –Elongated. 
    2.    Soldier Minor resembles the major in many respects
  • Head capsule elongated pyriform to subrectangular
  • Rostrum – narrow, cylindrical and much lengthier, compared to head length than in major. 
  • Antennae - 12-14 segments, longer in comparison to soldier major


1: Odontotermes obesus
(Rhambür)

1

Total body length

4.0-6.0 mm

2


Head

Head capsule

Head sparsely hairy

Oval, weakly converging anteriorly, Head capsule Pale yellow to castaneous brown colored

3

Antennae

Pale yellow to yellowish brown, darker distally, Two types antennae(a)antennae with 16 segments(b)antennae with 17 segments. In 16 segmented antennae, segment 2 is sub equal to segment 3 and 4, and in 17 segmented antennae, segment 3 is the shortest.

4

Labrum

Tongue-shaped, with broadly rounded anterior margin

5

Mandibles

Long, slender, sabre-shaped.

6

Left mandible

With a sharp, prominent tooth at distal ⅓

7

Right mandible

With a minute tooth, a little below the level of the tooth on the left mandible.

8

Postmentum

Sub rectangle

9

Pronotum

Saddle shaped, anterior lobe semi circular, anterior margin weakly to deeply notched. Posterior margin also weakly emarginate to distinctly notched.

There are dimorphic working caste (1) worker major and (2) worker minor 


2: Odontotermes wallonensis (Wassmann)






1

Total body length

4.6-6.7 mm

2

  1. Head

  2. Head capsule

Head sparsely hairy

Sub rectangularly oval, sides faintly convex, pale yellow to brownish yellow in colour.

3

Body and legs

Body densely hairy, whitish to yellowish in color

4

Antennae

Yellow to pale brown distally and paler proximally, antennae two types with 16 segmented and 17 segmented. in 16 segmented antennae, segment 2 is sub equal to segment 3,and segment 4 is shortest. In 17 segmented antennae, segment 2 is longer than segment3 and segment 3 is the shortest and segment 4 is longer than segment 5.

5

Post clypeus

Not clearly de marketed, faintly marked on sides, with a few hairs.

6

Labrum

Broadly tongue shaped, anteriorly broadly rounded.

7

Mandibles

Long, fairly strong and incurved anteriorly.

8

Left mandible

With a prominent tooth, a little above middle point.

9

Postmentum

Sub rectangular and flat.

10

Pronotum

Saddle-shaped, deeply notched, both anteriorly and posteriorly.

11

Mesonotum

Narrower than Pronotum.

12

Metanotum

As wide as /broader than Pronotum, posterior margin sub straight/weakly incurved.

There are dimorphic working caste (1) worker major and (2) worker minor. This is a common mound-building termite. The mounds are noticeable with their chimney like openings and commercially termed as agriculture pest.


3: Odontotermes ceylonicus (Wasmann)




1

Total body length

5.0-7.4mm

2

  1. Head

  2. Head capsule

Head sparsely hairy. Head capsule subrectangular, sides sub straight/ fairly convex and very slightly converged in front of antennae. The colouration of head capsule is yellow to brown.

3

Antennae

Antennae two types, 16 segments and 17 segments. In 16 segmented, segment 4 is the shortest segment and in 17 segmented, segment 3 is the shortest.

4

Labrum

Sub triangular, with tip somewhat pointed

5

Mandibles

Strong, stout, saber-shaped and incurved at tips.

6

Left mandible

With a large ,sharp pointed tooth at middle, making an angle of about 90⁰

7

Right mandible

With a rudimentary tooth at middle

8

Postmentum

Saddle –shaped, anterior and posterior margins deeply emarginate in middle.

There are dimorphic working caste (1) worker major and (2) worker minor. The nests of Odontotermes ceylonicus are subterranean, for foraging they make covered runways and lays sheaths of earth over the tree trunks feeding on the bark.


4: Odontotermes horni (Wasmann)




1

Total body length

Total body length including mandibles 6.7-10.4 mm

2

  1. Head

  2. Head capsule

Head sparsely hairy, yellow to reddish brown.

Head capsule sub rectangular, sides, sub straight, very slightly converged in front of antennae.

3

Abdomen, body and legs

Abdomen creamish white to pale yellow, body fairly hairy, legs creamish white.

4

Antennae

Pale yellowish coloured, 17 segmented. Segment 3ia much shorter than segment 2, segment5is shorter than segment 4. Segment 4 is almost as long as segment 2.

5

Pronotum

Pale yellowish brown, saddle shaped, anterior margin with weak to moderately marked median notch; posterior margin reasonably distinctly notched.

6

Labrum

Pale yellowish to yellowish brown colored.

7

Mandibles

Strong, stout and sabre-shaped.

8

Left mandible

A large, prominent tooth near the base of the middle third.

9

Right mandible

With a minute tooth, a little below the level of the tooth on the left mandible.

There is dimorphic working caste (1) worker major and (2) worker minor.



5: Odontotermes bellahunisensis Holmgren and Holmgren



1

Total body length

Including mandibles 3.60-5.60 mm. Body densely hairy.

2

Head and Head capsule

Head broadly oval, broadest posteriorly and narrowed in front. Head sparsely hairy, Head-capsule brownish yellow, subcircular.

3

Antennae

There are two types 16 segmented and 17 segmented. Segment 4 is shortest in 16 segmented one, and segment 3 is shortest in 17 segmented antennae. Antennae are yellowish brown coloured.

4

Mandibles

Short, stout, sickle-shaped and strongly incurved, distally shorter in comparison to head.

5

Left mandible

With a large pointed tooth at distal third.

6

Right mandible

With a minute tooth, a little above middle.

7

Pronotum

Saddles shaped, anteriorly weakly notched, and posteriorly sub straight.

8

Mesonotum

Narrower and Metanotum is wider than Pronotum, posteriorly no emargination.

There is dimorphic working caste (1) worker major and (2) worker Minor. This species is a subterranean dweller.

Continue to read part 2

Pilot Whales in Mysore!

posted Apr 9, 2016, 10:44 PM by Sharath Adavanne   [ updated Apr 9, 2016, 10:45 PM ]


The second and third week of January  this year [2016] the south east coast of  Tamil Nadu  had turn into  the  centre of hyper  curiosity  and engrossed with  Biologists and naturalists rushing in. Scores of Pilot Whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) washed ashore and stranded on the shore line between Thiruchendore-Kulashekara pattinam - Manappad beach, which is close to to the Cape of Kanyakumari. Though every effort was made to put back the whales into seawaters, ended with little success.

             

      



The dead animals were buried after careful post-mortem and examination to ascertain the cause of this phenomenon, as per the directives of Government of India.

   



After a span of 2 months, Government of India and Government of Tamil Nadu permitted Regional Museum of Natural History, Siddhartha Nagara, Mysore to collect the skeletal remains of a Pilot Whale for education purpose and exhibit at the museum.



This writer was a member of collection group, had an opportunity to visit and take part in collection of the vestiges. At present the skeletal remains are under process for articulation of the skeleton, which will be put on put on show soon at RMNH, Mysore.

(S.J.Srinivasa, M/EP, Regional Museum of Natural History, Siddhartha Nagara, Mysore-570011) 

*Photo credit: Internet and SJS

 

 

Resident faunal adaptation to foreign floral species

posted Mar 29, 2015, 9:02 AM by Sharath Adavanne   [ updated Mar 29, 2015, 9:11 AM ]

Parthenium hysterophorus L., a tropical American weed belonging to the family Asteraceae is an invader noxious weed. It was accidentally introduced into India, more than fifty years ago. The seeds of Parthenium entered our country along with wheat grains when wheat was imported as PL-480 food aid to India.  It was first noticed near Poona, Maharashtra in 1951, as an escape and was reported as a new record for India in 1956 (Rao, 1956). Over the years it traveled along the railway tracks and soon spread all over the southern part of peninsula, as the climatic conditions here were favorable for its growth. Its presence was first recorded in Mysore, Karnataka on 23.11.1971 and by the end of 1972; it had invaded the Mysore district (Rao, 1981)
Because of its proliferate nature, absence of competitors, untouched by cattle and goats and inherent property of Asteracea family - exuding chemicals from their roots which inhibit the growth of surrounding plants, Parthenium aggressively spread and colonized. Eradication measures like physical removal, spraying chemical herbicides, biological control methods such as growing another weed Cassis sericea and releasing a specific herbivorous insect pest Zygogramma bicolorata turned out to be futile and became a conspicuous and natural element in our flora.

It is observed that butterflies, Mottled Emigrant Catopsilia pyranthe, Small Salmon Arab Colotis calais, Plain Orange Tip Colotis eucharis, Common Leopard  Phalanta phalantha,  Common Silverline Spindasis vulcanus and African Babul Blue Azanus jesous are feeding on Parthenium flowers. 

It seems Parthenium has reached the pinnacle of its invasiveness in Bandipur National Park, Karnataka, where we observed the tamed elephants of the Forest Department, in the summer of 2000, to eat this plant with evident relish.  This phenomenon has been observed four times in the last six years.  Even wild elephants may eat this plant, though no visual observation is reported. 

These observations indicate that an invading alien plant is being gradually naturalized to a new environment in a short span of time. 

Reference:
  • Rao, R.S (1956): A new species Parthenium hysterophorus from Poona, Maharashtra. J.Bombay nat.  Hist. Soc. (54): 218-220
  • Rao,R.R & Razi,B.A.(1981):  A synoptic flora of Mysore district, Today & Tomorrow's printers and publishers, New Delhi: pp.20- 22

K.B.Sadananda and  A.Shivaprakash
22.01.2006

A Day out in Lingambudhi Tank

posted Mar 29, 2015, 8:51 AM by Sharath Adavanne   [ updated Mar 29, 2015, 9:10 AM ]

On one mid-day during May 2003, while crossing over Lingambudhi tank bund on a personal work, we sighted White-necked storks, 43 in numbers spread over the marsh and green lawn. Being very regular visitors to this tank, WN Storks numbers surprised us. Thus unusual sighting, compelled us to spend a full day in the tank documenting entire day bird activity. It materialized on 23rd December 2003.

It was 5:30 A.M.; chilly, sky was filled with numerous glittering stars with planet Jupiter in the mid-sky and Saturn in the west sky. Standing below a medium sized Casurina tree, we could here Stone Curlew’s pick-wick in open grass land and alert calls of Red-wattle Lapwing from shore line.  From clumps of Pongamia Spotted Owlett was making series harsh chuckles. From water surface very feeble quacks and shrills of Ducks, Coots, Grey Herons and Dabchicks were originating; overhead, on and off kwaak by Night Herons filled the air of chilled weather. A moving car’s headlight on sector shaped bund, from west to east, shown us the spread out ducks activity on water surface in the pitch dark night.

The early sunrays opened up the bounty in the lake –Spot-billed Pelican (5), Darter (2), Painted Stork (3), Grey Heron (18), Ducks (c. 1300), Coots, waders. From the canopies of Acacia and Sesbania trees, emerged roosting Black Drongos and Bee-eaters after nights’ halt.  From north-east direction flocks of Cattle egrets, Common and Jungle Mynas flew leisurely over the tank. These birds roosts in Kukkarahalli (aerial distance 4.5 Km) and are found flying over Lingambudhi in the morning and evening regularly throughout the year. Their magnitude multiplies in winter. Quite often, in winter migratory Rosy Pastors & Chestnut-tailed Starlings join them. 

In September, the tank was almost empty.  Scanty rains there-after brought relief to the tank dwellers; water spread area marginally increased from 600 to 4400 mtr² (full capacity - 1.85*104 mtr²) submerging overgrown Cyperus reeds partly.  Thus, tank bed is now accommodating Crakes, Rails, Herons and seldom inviting Marsh Harriers and Greater spotted Eagle. Though late, Coots & Grebes established their nests to proliferate their population.  

Cormorants (Little, Great and Shag) arrived in small batches, circling at lower elevation assessed the prey base and landed.  But after few minutes Shags (11) left the tank. Great Cormorants (22) also left the tank after half an hour, whereas Little Cormorants (5) and Darters (2) stayed throughout the day.  They were often shifting the foraging  location within lake. Egret, Pelicans, Waders do have this habit of shifting foraging ground. However Ducks, Coots sticks to a limited range near the place where they rest on mud/sand bar.

Water birds in the tank were identified and counted, 1238 nos.  Around 8 am, as usual ducks started arriving in flocks from east direction, their numbers varying  from 13 to 480 from Dalavay Lake. Dalavay Lake (aerial distance – 5 Km) is abode to wintering ducks and is situated on Mysore-Ooty road. Space constrain in City forced the Trucks and Lorries to outer-city for parking purpose.  Once the heavy vehicles are started to go back to city in the morning, disturbs the ducks population residing closely and they leave the Dalavay tank and arrive in Lingambudhi tank.

Solitary Ruff and few Black-tailed Godwits arrived separately in the afternoon stayed for an hour and left. Little Stints were found flying displaying their distinctive contrast colors. However, we failed to notice their arrival.

A Greater Spotted Eagle (GSE) found thrice flying over the tank. Once, by stretching wings backwards, lowering legs, descended sharply. It was about to reach tank bed, but three Black Kites started attacking GSE.  GSE on a defensive mood changed the direction and elevation, left the tank area.Marsh Harriers, 2 female and a male, carried out unsuccessful nineteen sorties over the lake disturbing water birds at different time of the day. They didn’t even succeed once.  Almost after every dry run females landed in the Cyperus reeds, hiding and twice landed on dry shore along with male.

Floating vegetation (Duckweed) was plenty and handy, ducks were feeding on it very leisurely. At the most ducks may feed 4-5 hours a day. Ducks prefer morning hours for feeding. Once the stomach is full, they spend their time preening feathers or rest tucking their head back.    Yellow and Grey Wagtails (89) were active throughout the day on short grass fields - walking slowly, flying in quick succession in undulating gait.

The mid-day was very hot and dry; hardly there was any bird activity in the tank. Scotching heat was intolerable even below the shadow of a tree. Dried ‘shit’  drove us away from the shade to find a descent place to sit and observe.  

  • We could list the cause for bird disturbances in the tank other than the Bird of Prey hawking:
  • Health conscious citizens jogging very close to water body and the ‘clapping’ exercise
  • At the instant men enter water area after toileting
  • The moment Cattle & sheep move into water for drinking, bathing
  • Two explosions at far off places
  • Villagers using short way to reach town moving closer to water body – a village dress code is least disturbing comparing pant and shirt
  • Regular Tractor movement (every half an hour) used to collect silt for farm use / brick kiln
  • Boys playing cricket close to water body in the evening
  • Movement of Bike and Cycle from village, Lingambudhi Palya to Vivekananda Circle via Ramalingeshwara temple
  • Boys with binoculars / camera were clapping to have a better photo

Just at the time of Sunset, 18:00 hrs, these boys with camera made such a noise that almost all the ducks took off, formed seven different large flocks, and started circling in opposite directions. Circling activity went on for few minutes.  Some 800 ducks landed back, rest moved towards the direction from where they arrived in the morning. It was totally dark; all the evening walkers/visitors have left, we were the only left out. Forest guard reminded us to depart. 

To verify what we saw on previous evening still persists, visited the tank well before the sunrise on next day. Found Pelican (4), Painted storks (2), Grey Herons (12) and Ducks (c. 800) were present.  It was the same when we last observed it. 

Total 44 species of water birds were observed, to mention few: Spot-billed Duck, Pintail, Shoveller, Common Pochard, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal and Lesser Whistling, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Marsh Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover and Little Stints.


Deapesh Mishra and Shivaprakash A
  24/12/2004

Cultivating bird-watching as a hobby

posted Dec 28, 2014, 1:06 AM by Sharath Adavanne   [ updated Jan 10, 2015, 12:35 AM ]



    
    Ability to identify the birds accurately in the field by their plumage, call, behavior is a pleasure. One need to go out of four walls for birds- thus it becomes a joy, thrill and a refreshing passion. Birding is much more than a recreational and healthy hobby; it is inexpensive, educative, artistic, scientific, and challenging; it also exposes to the field of photography, trekking, travel, and farming.

    Most of us know few common birds around us, like Sparrow, Myna, Pigeon, Crow & Peafowl. These birds size, colour, beak, feather are not similar; even their call, behaviour, foraging and resting place is also different. Thoroughly observe the common birds found in your immediate vicinity for their structure, and behaviour. Eye for minute details and make a note in memory or scribble on a field note book. It is better to know Birds’ body parts, such as supercilium, ear covert, malar region, beak, etc for identification purpose. A better field guide will provide basic feature of every bird found in India. Field guides contains birds colour picture with important identity keys; describes range and habitat where they are normally found. To figure out the birds seen in the field, search the field guide for over all character, and habitat. Basics such as Seed eating bird has stout beak; nectar drinking thin, down curved beak will easily takes us to the group of birds to be referred in the field guide. Within few days beginner will be able to differentiate one bird from another by identification factors like how the bird flies, where it is found, what is its shape and size of the beak, tarsus etc., Start with your neighbourhood. You’ll be surprised and escalated by the sheer number and the beauty witnessed!

    To know more about birds, it is essential to observe them with a meaningful purpose linked with their body structure and the habitat. It is possible to learn bird watching hobby using field guides without anybody’s help. However, learning process will be faster and better when a new entrant joins an experienced birding group or a seasoned birder at least for few days. After understanding the local species well, birder moves out to other localities in search of new birds. Depending on season, birders may visit habitats like forest, water body, marsh, grassland, and shoreline and so on. Even birders venture into vast stretches of ocean, travelling whole day just to have a glimpse of pelagic birds.

    Best time to watch bird is early-morning. After nights roost, birds will emerge looking for energy-giving food. They will be more active and vocal, so easier to spot. Binocular will enhance the beauty of bird watching, since it enlarges the bird’s minute details; observer gets a better view enhancing the identification skills. Birding is also possible without binoculars. Many villagers identify most of the birds found in their locality by call, overall size and behavior. So, slowly and confidently a new entrant moves from backyard birds to rarities at different locations. Scribbled notes on location, date, time, weather condition, birds sighted, birds activity becomes a data and compiled over a period turns out to be a scientific document.

    Birds diet varies, whatever the diet of birds all need water. So, easiest way to attract neighborhood birds is with a water supply. Better way to observe your local bird is offer a water supply to drink and bathe. With the arrival of winter, many more birds appear to drink water; they look different than the local ones and are migratory birds.

    During learning process birder finds it difficult to identify few groups of birds like waders, warblers and birds of prey. Difficulty multiplies with the arrival of migratory birds in winter. Difference between species is so less, it requires better skill to separate the species and accurately identify them. Here, the experience counts.

    Visit a bird sanctuary near your locality where reproductive activity takes place and observe the plumage variation, courtship display, nest building, mating, egg laying, incubation, and so on. Compare with available breeding information, report the differences in birding discussion groups or scientific journal and spread newly acquired breeding knowledge.

    Most of the cases, birds congregate to take rest in the late evenings and disperse in the early morning. Varieties of birds are found in roosting places like island, woodland, unused building, and open grassland. Staying in group provides protection to the birds. Such roosting birds’ congregation can be seen in Kukkarahalli, Lingambudhi and Karanji tanks within Mysore city. Few solitary birds rest in a bush, trees near human settlements.

    Previously, elite class alone was practicing bird watching. After independence, people from all strata of society made it. Only resource book available for Indian birds was Salim Ali’s field guide- ‘Book of Indian Birds’ , published in 1941, comprising 242 common birds out of 1200 species then known. Later it was revised to 538 species; two valuable Field-guides by Grimmett & Krys containing all Indian sub-continent birds appeared in 2000 are very popular. After 2005 re-revised and regional field guides, easily available binocular & spotting scope and the advent of digital era with affordable camera, audio devices, mobile & internet communication multiplied the bird watchers strength by many fold.

    India being a tropical country with its diverse weather and vegetation features, there is no scarcity for birds. Around 1300 species of birds are found in India, almost 10% of world account -10,241. Karnataka state is harboring around 550 bird species. Mysore region comprising Mandya, Chamarajanagar & Mysore district amounts to 344 species, comprising of 189 Residents, 106 winter visitors, 16 Passage migrants, and 34 Vagrants. Such accurate bird information is due to active bird-watchers presence since 1980.

    Increasing number of people volunteering to take part in bird census, bird monitoring and bird photography events indicates the growing popularity. So, a hobby resulted in better understanding of our birds and their diversity. The baseline data provided by these amateur birders helps ecologist and conservationist. The outcome proliferates into new bird field guides, helps in protection and conservation of important habitats. The branch of Ornithology is most studied and well understood out of all Life science subjects just because of amateur birders. Global level migratory birds, their flyway are well understood because of worldwide involvement of amateur birdwatchers.


     













                Fig:  Great Indian Hornbill                                                                 Fig: Artists impressions of birds

    Birding is a popular pastime worldwide and people from all walks of life and age participate in it. Earlier the better; introducing the children to the hobby at middle school level would be more appropriate and rewarding.

    What makes birding so popular? Birds are omnipresent, they are found in urban & rural area, lakes & tanks, Desert, forests, snow capped mountains & even sky. So, wherever you are you can watch birds all the 24 hours. They are clearly visible with naked eye and are also audible. Bird watching activity induces many questions, such as - sipping nectar, in which flower; hunted an insect – what insect; eating a fruit – which fruit; building a nest – on which tree, such questions and learning process takes us in to the more deeper nature world. And moreover, bird’s common name is easy to remember and recall. It is not so in mammal, butterfly and floral watching. In the case of Mammal observation we need to visit wildlife sanctuaries that may be far off; we may visit once but not repetitively. In Butterfly watching, diversity fluctuation is high and seasonal, requires to visit the location where good vegetation persist; in addition, its small size prevents common men from choosing it as a hobby. Difficult to remember botanical names and absence of common names for most of the species discourages common man taking Flora or Flower watch as a hobby.

    There is a huge volume of printed and digital information on birds. This may give feeling that there is hardly anything to learn about birds, but this is not really so. Much information like -behavioral difference, difference in seasonal status, presence of a species in a particular location is not found in many bird books.

    Many birdwatchers know their local birds, distribution pattern, seasonal variation and local movements that are not found in any of the bird books. There exists a lot of information spread among the birdwatchers. Such information never had a chance to come into the bird books. All these years we were not having a methodology or a system to gather bits of information. But, the present digital age has given way for collaborative study known as ‘crowd sourcing’ from entire world and publishing the result instantly, in various understandable formats online.

    Now, in India we have many well illustrated region-wise field guides. But, information generated from the bird watching hobby is not corresponding with birders growth. Moreover, birders distribution is also not uniform. Most of the birders are from the larger cities. So, it is time to rope in enthusiastic minds from rural and suburb regions into bird watching hobby.

    There are many local birding groups in India. To name a few – Bengaluru birds, Mysuru nature, Kolkata birds, birds of Mumbai, Delhi birds, Coastal Karnataka Birders network, North-Karnataka Birders network. Obviously, these local birding groups are highly informative and have potential to gather long term information. Though the information collected is small, but the sum total would be significant.

    In some cases, we know more about many rare bird species than most of the common species just because funding agencies support only rare species. The fast evolving Internet communication has set right the anomaly since amateur birders contribution is many fold higher than the funded studies and they report all the bird species that come across their way.

    Do you know Bird watching hobby harms birds? Disturbance to birds and their habitat, decline in breeding pair, affecting local culture are the few negative impacts, understood to have generated with the increase in numbers of birdwatchers and not following the birders ethics. We must keep in mind that birds are not here for our enjoyment. Since we love them to see, shall help them to survive by following few code of conduct that is in practice since long. They are -maintain a safe distance from birds and nests, don’t alter or clear the vegetation around nest for better view or photography, do not harass birds for photo, strictly no breeding photos unless required for scientific study, not to playback the birds call to attract birds using audio devices, do not wear shining or fast color dresses, do not make noise, and do not trespass private property or protected forests.

    To conclude, let’s see what Salim Ali’s said about bird watching; -‘There is a belief that one can’t make a living from bird watching, perhaps to some extent it is true. On the contrary, humans can’t live on bread alone. There are many people just idling without such hobbies often uttering the word ‘boring’ during their young age till retirement and death. Birds provide a beauty and fulfillment that is vital to our quality life.’


References:
  • Birds: Beyond watching, A.J.Urfi (2004)
  • Collaborative Bird Study, In the digital era by L. Shyamal (2006)

A Study of Mysuru Birds – Past and Present

posted Nov 6, 2014, 8:56 AM by Sharath Adavanne   [ updated Dec 28, 2014, 12:56 AM ]


Salim Ali’s name is synonymous with Indian birds. Being a self- made bird ecologist, he conducted numerous expeditions in entire Indian subcontinent spanning over six decades that made him an authoritative guide to 1300 species. He lived a fruitful life of 91 years from 1896 to 1987. His deep knowledge and wide range of nature concern is unparalleled. Salim Ali’s significant contributions to Karnataka’s avian fauna are –

  • Mysore Bird survey in 1939 spread over eight districts ruled by Mysore Kings.
  • Utilizing this survey report, he influenced the Mysore rulers to establish Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary in 1940 at Palahally islands near Srirangapattana
  • A detailed information on birds named ‘Pakshigalu’ in the Kannada Encyclopedia titled ‘Kannada Vishwakosha’, brought out by Kannada Adhyana Samsthe, Mysore University in 1980 dealing on ecology, anatomy, reproduction, migration and population, geographical distribution and economic importance. Here, his English script was translated to Kannada.

Salim Ali had intended to have bird collecting camp at Gangawati (Raichur Dist) during Hyderabad State Ornithological survey in 1931. Since requisite finance was not sanctioned by Nizam government, he was compelled to curtail the survey. Thus Nizam ruled Bidar, Gulbarga & Raichur region bird knowledge remained unobserved. These districts are now part of Karnataka.





Fig: Mysore State Bird survey team stayed here in Devarayanadurga, Tumkur





Fig: Salim Ali in action even at the older age




Fig: Salim Ali was honoured with Padma Vibhushana by Dr Fakrudhin Ali Ahmed
Photos of Salim Ali ( Courtesy: Nehru Memorial Museum and Libray & Oxford University Press, New Delhi)



Fig: Mysore map with surveyed location


Bird surveys of the Madras Presidency, Hyderabad, Travancore and Cochin States by Salim Ali showed some interesting divergences between certain forms living in the eastern and western parts of the Indian Peninsula. So systematic work was envisaged to investigate the line of separation obviously lay somewhere in the intervening country of Mysore. Mysore durbar provided permission and logistic assistance; and American Museum of Natural History, New York facilitated the survey by financing. One will be overwhelmed to know that despite losing his better-half, just four months before Mysore Bird survey, Salim Ali conducted the survey with equal enthusiasm. Tehmina, Salim Ali’s wife used to be a constant companion, accompanying him in most of the expeditions expired in July 1939 due to post-operative complications.

Salim Ali toured erstwhile Mysore state during 6th November 1939 and 25th February 1940 spread over four months. Extensive bird survey was held at 63 locations like Agumbe, BR hills, kemmanugundi. He toured evergreen, moist, deciduous, thorn-scrub, farm fields, wetland, hills, and plains in search of birds. Finally, he established the presence of 346 bird species. Final report comprises the findings of game hunters and naturalists residing in this part of the country, such as Morris, Phythium, Betts, Davison & Taylors’. With survey result, he convinced and influenced Mysore rulers to establish Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary in 1940 which is now one among 465 Important Bird Area, a priority conservation site in India.




Fig: Famous words of Salim Ali displayed in Ranganathittu

With this study, in addition to consolidating the bird species recorded in the entire region, Salim Ali concluded the habitat types for resident bird species; proved range extension of Rufous-bellied Shortwing from Nilgiris to Bababudan Hills; presence of rare resident species Hair-crested Drongo in Tumkur; recorded seasonal local movements of Baya Weaver Bird; Mysore was added to the ascertained range of Grey-breasted Prinia; for the first time recorded three varieties of migrant Leaf Warbler; documented immature male Rose-ringed Parakeets participation in reproduction, and importantly mating of Alpine Swifts in mid-air.

Currently, India has large number of competent Bird watchers wholly due to Salim Ali’s pictorial field guide – The common Birds of India. This was first published in 1941 in a simple non-technical language for a layman, sold at a cheaper rate. Field guide was compiled during his un-employment days with a wife to support while residing in Dehradun during 1935.

Competent amateur bird watchers and photographers collated data from entire Karnataka has now touched 550 bird species. Salim Ali’s 346 bird species now stands 550, is attributed to increase in two fold geographical areas after states reorganization and studies over a long period covering all the seasons yielding complete information, than the one short seasonal survey conducted by Salim Ali. Present record shows additional 100 species from earlier surveyed eight districts of erstwhile Mysore State, 50 pelagic & coastal specialists from coastal areas and rest from northern Karnataka.

Forest stretches that were contiguous and healthy have dwindled, denuded and restraining resident birds within the reduced patchy habitat. Some of the affected birds are - Blue-bearded Bee-eater , Spotted Babbler , Red Spurfowl , Painted Spurfowl. Birds present in reduced habitat are now foraging in the degraded forests or converted agriculture fields. Anthropogenic pressure made vast grasslands to fade away. Affected birds are -Painted Sandgrouse & Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse , Great Indian Bustard , and Lesser Floricon . Excluding Floricon, these birds are still present, in very minute numbers in different part of Karnataka. Some of the birds like Swinhoe's Snipe, Great Bittern, Woodcock, White-eyed Pochard recorded during his time are not found now. Surprisingly four time visitor Tufted Pochard has not been seen.

Congregation of Demoiselle Cranes in 1000s at Kapila river near Nanjanagudu, Yelandur Tanks, and at confluence of River Kapila, Cauvery at T.Narasipura was a common feature during winter in those days; and were flying over Mysuru city regularly. In recent years few individual Demoiselle Cranes were recorded at Maddur kere near Yelandur and KRS backwaters, and infrequently around Hidkal dam near Belgaum. Sighting record of Grass-hopper Warbler, Orphean Warbler, Large Whistling-Duck and Gadwall is presently same as in 1940s, just once.

In order to save Great Indian Bustard, a rare bird from extinction it was suggested vehemently for complete protection both from professional snares and sportsmen. Known population of Bustards from Ranibennur has disappeared in the last decade and few isolated individuals have been recorded in Koppal district, three years back by North Karnataka Birders Network.

Presence of common winter migrants -Glossy Ibis & Whiskered Terns seems to be recent trend, as these were not recorded during Salim Ali’s survey. Salim Ali’s observations like White Ibises are less common than Black Ibises is now reversed; it is still true that most of the time winter migrants- Garganeys are always out-numbered Northern Pintail and Cotton Teals ; and un-commonly found White-necked Storks breeding locations are now identified from Nanjanagudu & Jog Falls environ.
The last two decades waterfowl census covering Mysore, Mandya and Chamarajanagar districts have clearly shown the decline in the breeding of local waterbirds. And also decline in quantum of visiting migratory birds in winter. Attribution for breeding decline is extensive fishing throughout the year causing disturbance for foraging, roosting and breeding. The disturbance deprives their most palatable food, and also decrease or even retards reproductive capabilities of these birds. Moreover secluded nesting and roosting sites are exposed to the ire of fisherman because some species consumes their valuable catch, fishes.

Few reasons for decline of winter visitors are -Non-availability of favored depths in the lake, change in the habitat condition- water quality affecting the primary producers and consumers and intern feed to the birds. Though food is available in the lake, accessibility is restricted by the increased human activity like cultivation in shore, tank bed, fishing, water sports, poaching. Eutrophication due to fertilizer run-off, sewage, industries polluted water, excessive overgrowth of weeds causing food imbalance. In addition to Encroachment & Siltation, converting lakes for development activities like solid waste disposal, bus stand, offices, and public amenities resulted in reduced lakes available to the birds.

After a gap of Thirty-four years, Salim Ali visited Ranganathittu Bird sanctuary on 20th June 1974. Visitors logbook here has Salim Ali’s handwritten view, ‘Having had a hand in the initial establishment of Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary in 1940, while on an Ornithological Survey of the then Mysore State, I have been particularly happy to note the improvements that have taken place here during intervening year. On the present visit I was hoping to see the heronry in full occupation but owing to the lateness of the monsoon only a few Open-bill Stork and some Egrets have arrived as yet, and nesting has not commenced. I had the privilege of discussing various suggestions on improvement of facilities for the birds as well as visitors with the forest officials concerned, and I look forward to visiting the place again before long to see them implemented’.

In an interview with Delhi Akashavani on 27th April 1975, Salim Ali clearly stated his role in Indian ornithology, ‘I have always been an ecologist rather than a classifier of birds. For instance I have always been much keener on the living birds than on the dead, so that all the ecological studies of these birds that have been described in our handbook have not been found in earlier books, when most of the people were taxonomists’.

Salim Ali, an enthusiast bird specialist in individual capacity surveyed entire Mysore state in 1939, exactly 75 years back at a time when the word ‘infrastructure’ was almost unheard and established a baseline data. The birders of Karnataka shall remember him for two reasons especially in November: First, historic Mysore bird survey that was started on 6th November and the second, he was born on 12th November.

Having experienced Salim Ali’s contribution, we should accept honestly that somehow we have failed to follow his footsteps, in preserving the bird habitat and monitoring the bird diversity on regular basis with available modern facility and infrastructure.


References:

  • The fall of Sparrow, Salim Ali (1985)
  • A bird's eye view, Tara Gandhi (2007)

Article support:

  • Sri Ronald F Sequeira and Sri BR Sheshgiri



Fig: Handwritten expression of Salim Ali recorded in Visitors log of Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Mandya Dt




Taxonomist Butterfly –Southern Bird Wing

posted Oct 2, 2014, 5:36 AM by Sharath Adavanne   [ updated Oct 2, 2014, 11:25 AM ]


    Few years ago, we had been to  Aralam wildlife sanctuary, Kerala.  It is a moist deciduous, semi evergreen/ evergreen forest. Our attention was caught by the appearance of an endemic Butterfly – Southern Birdwing Troides minos which is known to be the largest butterfly of western ghats with a wing span of nearly 190 mm.  It is a beautiful insect, black and yellow in colour.  Its caterpillar host plant is Thottea siliqousa, an endemic climber of Arstolochiaceae in addition to commoners Aristolochia indica, and Aristolochia tagala .  The butterfly is always in search of these particular plant on the leaves of which the adult lays the eggs.  The caterpillar on hatching from the eggs eagerly munches the leaves and after a few days becomes pupa.



Fig: Southern bird-wing


    

Fig: Southern Birdwing caterpillar (Troides minos) on Aristolochia tagala                Fig: Thottea siliquosa

    The butterfly usually flies at a great height of nearly 90-100 ft above apparently detect the climber even from such a great height.  We started guessing how the butterfly could sense the presence of this particular climber.  It is possible that the plant was releasing the particular chemical into the air in small quantities, perhaps few molecules at a time.  The butterfly after sensing the plant from such a height slowly starts descending and as it came closer to the plant, it is possible that concentration of molecules detected will be high. The butterfly was evidently joyful that the particular plant was the desired one.  The butterfly did not stop at that it came closer and closer and almost touched the plant and evidently confirmed the identity of the plant.  Just as we human beings sense the presence of perfume plants like jasmine or champaka confirming its identity.  It is a classical living instance of nano technology in practice. Once the butterfly is sure of the climber’s identity, it descended further and started laying eggs.  This whole instance simply amazed us.  The butterfly apparently is an example of expert taxonomist!

    All the while Ms. Vijayalaxmi was happily recording the whole sequence photographically.  After finishing its task the butterfly flew away perhaps looking out for another Thottea plant ahead.  The whole instance indicates the amazing ways of nature.  Nature is always so.  It never fails to amaze us, if we observe it closer and deeper.  Such instances could happen in your own garden.  Amazing are the ways of Mother Nature! Do observe and document it.



Author: KB Sadananda
Photo courtesy: M Sahana & Rubin Nair

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